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Pakatan leaders want to undo ‘electoral abuse’

 | March 20, 2013

Umno is accused of creating a vast lopsided voter population difference between rural and urban parliamentary constituencies for its 'own selfish political gain'.

TAIPING: Pakatan Rakyat leaders are gearing up to review the controversial concept of “rural weightage” in the Election Act which has been gerrymandered by Umno to ensure a continuous win in all elections.

These leaders want the voters to give them the mandate to take Putrajaya in the coming polls to ensure that the voting rights of all Malaysians is safeguarded following five decades of abuse.

DAP national vice chief M Kulasegaran told FMT that there is a vast lopsided voter population difference between rural and urban parliamentary constituencies created by Umno for its “own selfish political gain”.

According to the DAP leader, the Election Act of 1958 stated that voter population in one constituency to another should not be more than 10% in difference.

However, he said in 1964 the Act was amended by the then first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman to ensure that Umno has an iron grip on rural areas and to increase the number of BN representatives in Parliament.

“After this controversial amendment, rural weightage was given preference which means subjected to only the prime minister and the Election Commission,” he added.

Tunku’s argument then was that the rural voter population was scattered and due to lack of communication, more representatives were needed to cover the vast rural areas.

But Kulasegaran rubbished this outdated argument by saying that today’s better communication lines does not warrant for such a lopsided voter population.

He said the vast voter population differences between rural and urban areas do not justify the “one man, one vote” principle whereby one person’s vote should have the same weightage and power as another person’s vote.

“For instance the total combined voter population of parliamentary BN constituencies of Gerik, Lenggong, Padang Rengas and Kuala Kangsar is smaller than the combined voters of Ipoh Barat and Ipoh Timor (both held by DAP),” he pointed out.

The Ipoh Barat MP said the difference of voter representation is glaring like when compared to Putrajaya with about 10,000 to Ipoh Barat’s 75,000.

“The whole system has been manipulated in favour of Umno and we may advocate a better system for better representation of the people (if elected to power),” he added.

Must be challenged in court

Meanwhile, other Pakatan leaders also voiced their concern over other forms of gerrymandering that have ensured the continuity of BN in power.

PKR state deputy chief and Gopeng MP Dr Lee Boon Chye said: “The de-lineation of constituencies by the EC is unconstitutional and can be challenged in court.”

“EC had stated that we cannot challenge the voters’ registration list in court but the unconstitutional move (by EC) to shift voters out of the designated constituency areas without the change of voters address warrants the legal challenge,” he pointed out.

The vocal Gopeng MP alleged that about 1,000 voters in his constituency without their knowledge have been moved in and out of his area.

He said these voters who were in his constituency in 2004 were moved out to Ipoh Timor in 2008 and now they have been shifted back to Gopeng again.

This abuse of the law should be exposed to all the voters and rectifications have to be made to ensure that one man one vote is maintained, he added.

Clean and consistent

PAS Parit Buntar MP Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa said: “The electoral roll must be clean and consistent while phantom voters must be eliminated at all cost.”

“EC must always remain independent and not be a tool for any political party and it must ensure that the spirit of the democratic rights of the voters is not compromised,” he added.

Mujahid called for the automatic voter registration of all Malaysians who have attained the age of 21 as the present registration process is too rigid, cumbersome and can be manipulated.

PSM Sungai Siput MP Dr Jeyakumar said: “The move to redraw the Batu Gajah parliamentary constituency consisting of Tronoh, Menglembu and Jelapang to reflect the racial mix is funny as it is not drawn according to the geographical region.”

He said another example of mismatching in his constituency is the subdivision of the Kamuning polling station into Kamuning Barat which comes under the state constituency Jalong and Kamuning Timor which falls under the Lintang state constituency.

He said BN at one time was thinking that by creating more mixed population seats, it will ensure their continuous rule of the country.

However, the PSM leader was quick to add that rural weightage is still necessary as many rural areas are still difficult to access.

Meanwhile, in echoing the sentiments of other Pakatan leaders, DAP state chief and Beruas MP Ngeh Koo Ham said: “We need the mandate of the voters to redraw the constituencies to reflect the one man one vote policy for the benefit of our present and future generations.”

Adding on to his party boss’ comment, Sungkai assemblyperson A Sivanesan said: “As long as Umno-BN is in power, it will never subscribe to the democratic process of ‘one man, one vote’ as it will mean the end of BN’s rule of the country.”

“This disparity of the BN political game in allocating more voters to urban areas controlled by the opposition and having fewer voters for BN controlled rural areas has to be stopped and we have to revamp the whole election system of voting,” Sivanesan said.

“We have to also bring back the third government of local council elections to empower the people in the administration of the country,” he added.


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